Jordan Spieth

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

For a while on Monday, Justin Thomas didn’t even know he was going to play in this week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas battled some sort of sickness early in the week — a doctor told him he had strep throat, but Thomas didn’t think that was the case. Regardless, he played nine holes in a practice round on Monday in front of a very small gallery — and it wasn’t pretty.

“I was 50/50 on Monday,” Thomas said. “There were probably 15 or so people that watched me play nine holes, and you find those 15 people and see if they thought I was ready to play in a golf tournament. Some of the shots I hit were pretty funny.”

But despite not feeling 100 percent early on, Thomas has been nothing short of stellar this week at Austin Country Club.

He won all three of his matches in group play. He dismantled South Korea’s Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, during Saturday morning’s Round of 16. He then took care of fellow American Kyle Stanley in Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals, winning 2 and 1 to advance to Sunday’s final four.

“(Thomas) always has his foot on the pedal,” NBC golf analyst Peter Jacobsen said. “He’s always going forward, and he’s the hottest player on the planet.”

Thomas already sits atop the FedEx Cup standings. If he advances to the championship match on Sunday afternoon, he’ll grab hold of the world No. 1 ranking.

“I don’t know what’s going to come with it,” Thomas said. “But I just hope it happens (Sunday).”

For much of his young professional career, Thomas was always considered one of those players lurking in the shadows — full of potential but just lacking the wins. He now has eight PGA Tour wins to his name, including two this season. But his big breakthrough came last August at Quail Hollow when he won the PGA Championship — his first-career major.

If the 24-year-old ascends to No. 1 in the world on Sunday, he’ll join Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth as the only American players in history to have claimed the top ranking before the age of 25.

“My confidence level is just higher,” Thomas said. “I know that I have the game to play at the top.”

And if you’re looking for a Texas connection in what’s left of this year’s Dell Match Play, the closest one you’ll find is in Thomas. He just so happens to be good buddies with former Longhorn and three-time major winner Jordan Spieth. The two played junior golf together.

Thomas was also a member of the Alabama team that lost to Spieth and Texas in the finals of the 2012 NCAA Championship.

It’s always funny how spectators' allegiances change so quickly in golf, especially in a match play format. All three Longhorns in this year’s field — Spieth, Jhonattan Vegas and Dylan Frittelli — failed to make it out of group play.

So on Saturday, the gallery seemed to mostly back Thomas, or “JT” as the fans like to call him. The crowd could be a little more split come Sunday morning, though, when Thomas faces Bubba Watson in the semifinals.

Watson certainly needs no introduction in the golf world and has always been a fan favorite. The 39-year-old won the Masters twice (2012 and 2014) and just picked up his 10th-career PGA Tour victory at the Genesis Open in February.

“I’ve always thought he’s one of the most impressive players I’ve played with and watched go around a golf course,” Thomas said of Watson. “So I’m sure he’s sending it around here. Hopefully I won’t get too intimidated by it.”

And Watson has flare. He swings a pink driver, wears different-colored gloves, hits the ball a country mile and can make the ball move more than almost any Tour pro out there.

“You have to give (Thomas) the edge (Sunday), but this course is made for Bubba,” NBC golf analyst and two-time U.S. Open winner Johnny Miller said.

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

The winds were up at Austin Country Club on Friday, but the horns were down. All three former Texas players in the field failed to make the weekend matches at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Jhonattan Vegas and Dylan Frittelli had already been eliminated before Friday’s matches began. Jordan Spieth, the most successful professional player of the three, played in a win-and-advance match with Patrick Reed.

Spieth’s head-to-head bout with Reed drew the largest gallery of any match through the first three days of competition. Most of them supported Spieth, but they went home unhappy when Reed beat the fan favorite 2 & 1 with a clutch birdie putt from behind the green on the par-3 17th.

Spieth’s gone, but he’s not alone. Here are four other storylines from pool play at the Dell Match Play:

Defending champion Dustin Johnson strikes out

The No. 1 player in the world cruised to a victory in this event last year, never losing a match all week. This year, Johnson failed to win at all. He went 0-3-0 in a group with Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin and Bernd Wiesberger.

It’ll be interesting to see how Johnson fares at the Masters in two weeks. Last year, Johnson withdrew from the Shell Houston Open to rest the week before playing Augusta National only to withdraw from the Masters as well after he fell down a flight of stairs and injured his back.

Big names fail to make the weekend

Many of the games biggest stars will be leaving Austin earlier than they anticipated. In addition to Johnson and Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm were all seeded in the top 10 but failed to make it to Saturday.

Phil Mickelson, who generated crowds that rivaled those of Spieth this week, is also without a Saturday tee time despite winning his match on Friday. For those not playing next weekend in Houston, this was a final tune-up for the Masters. Mickelson, however, will ride into H-Town having played better on days two and three in Austin than he did on Day 1.

“It feels good to come back and win these last two matches, even though I’m not advancing,” Mickelson said. “But it goes back to the first day. You need to be ready to play from Day 1, because the opportunity to be eliminated is there.”

Matt Kuchar fires an ace at No. 7

Last year, Hideto Tanihara hit a hole in one on No. 7 in the consolation round on Sunday. Plenty of players have had much worse fortunes attacking that pin this year. Many have left their tee shots short during all three days of play, making for a tough pitch out of the sand.

Not Matt Kuchar.

He took advice from his own Skechers commercial, in which he says, “I find the best place to position your drive is at the bottom of the cup.”

It took awhile for the ball to roll in from the center of the green, but Kuchar’s tee shot eventually dropped in the hole, causing a roar to shake the grounds at ACC.

“When I hit the ball, I knew it was a good line and had potential to be close for a good-looking birdie,” Kuchar said. “As it kept rolling, it kept getting closer and closer and finally it disappeared. And it was fun to be up at elevation and see the ball the entire way and see it disappear. That's always a special thing in the game of golf.”

Sweet 16 matchups and tee times

Both the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals will be played on Saturday. Here are the eight matches slated to get the day started on Day 4 of the Dell Match Play.

(16) Matt Kuchar vs. (32) Kevin Kisner

(58) Ian Poulter vs. (25) Louis Oosthuizen

(46) Cameron Smith vs. (12) Tyrrell Hatton

(13) Alex Noren vs. (19) Patrick Reed

(2) Justin Thomas vs. (50) Si Woo Kim

(45) Kyle Stanley vs. (7) Sergio Garcia

(18) Brian Harman vs. (35) Bubba Watson

(59) Charles Howell III vs. (28) Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

It was the match that everyone wanted to see.

On Friday at Austin Country Club, former Longhorn Jordan Spieth faced off with his good friend and bullish match player Patrick Reed. The two have partnered together in the past for Team USA in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

But on this day, they were against each other — winner moving onto the weekend’s knockout round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The playing conditions were brutal, with severe winds gusting and switching on the players all day. That gave way to some so-so golf from both Spieth and Reed throughout the match. And in the end, it was Reed who prevailed, sending Spieth home early for the second consecutive year in this event.

“It was just one of those days that with how the conditions were, it wasn’t fun,” Reed said. “It was a grinder’s day out there.”

The hype for this match began almost as soon as the groups were announced Monday night.

After his match on Thursday, four-time major winner and world No. 7 Rory McIlroy was even asked if he had any interest in watching Spieth-Reed.

“I have a lot of interest in that,” McIlroy said. “What time are they playing?”

“In the afternoon — 1:30,” a reporter said.

“Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it.”

Joking or not, McIlroy wasn’t able to make it out for the match on Friday afternoon — but plenty of others did.

It was easily the largest gallery of the tournament thus far, and to no surprise it was pulling hard for its hometown hero in Spieth.

Shouts of “Hook ‘em” echoed among the spectators all day. Fans on a Lake Austin party boat began a “Texas! Fight!” chant as Spieth walked to the 14th tee box. At times, the crowd was five deep or more.

Former professional cyclist and Austinite Lance Armstrong even followed Spieth and Reed on the back nine.

“First golf tournament ever,” said Armstrong, a Longhorn fan.

Spieth appeared to be a little off on the practice range as he warmed up prior to his match. It carried over into his first few holes. He knocked his opening tee shot out of bounds. He hit both approach shots on the second and third holes into the hazard. After two holes, Spieth was already 2 down.

Spieth birdied the par-4 5th to move to 1 down and made a crucial 8-footer for par on the par-3th 7th. He bogeyed the par-4 8th to fall 2 down again. But then the 24-year-old three-time major winner turned it on.

Spieth’s wedge shots at the par-4 9th and par-4 10th were knocked stiff and conceded for birdies, which squared the match with Reed.

“I thought I rebounded nicely after it kind of looked like a round of 90 or 92 through the first few holes,” Spieth said.

But Spieth made another costly mistake at the par-3 11th and bogeyed, giving Reed a 1-up advantage. Reed didn’t surrender it for the rest of the day.

Spieth missed critical birdie putts at the par-5 12th and the par-4 14th that kept him from mounting a charge. It was a struggle all day, and beside holes 9 and 10, Spieth could just never get it going.

Spieth was 3 down heading to the par-5 16th. His birdie closed the gap to 2 down. But at the par-3 17th, Reed drilled a 40-foot putt from off the green to win the hole and the match, 3 and 1.

“Today I tried four or five different things and started to really feel good about it towards the end of the round,” Spieth said. “It was just a little bit late.”

Spieth hasn’t had a stellar 2018 season. He said after his match with Reed that he’s struggled with his putting and alignment. He’s finished in the top-10 twice this year, but he’s also missed two cuts. In less than two weeks, he’ll return to Augusta National seeking a second green jacket.

Until then, it’s about more fine-tuning as he searches for his form. Spieth will play at the Shell Houston Open next week before heading to the Masters.

“All in all, I didn’t come in expecting a whole lot this week,” Spieth said. “I’m just trying to continue to make progress. I have emphasis on four events a year. And anything in between, especially as we get really close to them, is leading up to it.”

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Jordan Spieth has been in some rather unusual places on a golf course in his life. 

Take last July for example, during the final round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale. Spieth, having blown a three-shot lead he began the day with, arrived at the 13th tee tied with Matt Kuchar. That’s when it got bizarre.

Spieth blew his tee shot at the 13th so far right that it cleared a massive dune. Twenty minutes passed before Spieth played his next shot. He marched around with rules officials searching for his nearest point of relief and scurried just to get a yardage number that sounded reasonable. He took an unplayable lie and ended up moving even further right and onto the adjacent practice range near equipment trucks.

Spieth, playing his third shot, got the ball back into play and somehow carded an other-wordly bogey on the hole to stay in the tournament. In hindsight, it was a huge moment in Spieth’s career, and he staged an epic rally late in the back nine to win the British Open that day.

Wednesday at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, on the first hole of his opening match with 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, the former Longhorn found himself in another unusual place on a golf course.

His tee shot sailed far right again, took a hard bounce off the cart path and chased right into the thick of the concession and picnic area set up between the first fairway and the sixth green. The ball came to rest right next to a stand-up tabletop. Hoards of spectators darted toward the ball.

Workers at the nearby Torchy’s Tacos stand would’ve been remiss to mistake these fans for taco-crazed individuals looking for a quick snack. But they weren’t sprinting to order a ‘Trailer Park’ or a ‘Dirty Sanchez’ taco. They desired a glimpse of Spieth’s nearby Titleist Pro V1x golf ball, lying right next to a fan who continued to chow down on his lunch at the tabletop as marshals and spectators quickly gathered.

No, this setting came nowhere close to matching the shear drama and TV extravaganza that was Spieth’s adventure on the 13th hole at Royal Birkdale last summer.

“No flashbacks,” Spieth said.

But the gallery still got a kick out of this one. Fans seemed bewildered that a ball had made it this far right of the fairway. It was a tee shot you’d expect out of a member-guest tournament at Austin Country Club — not a World Golf Championships event.

Which made the situation all the more entertaining for the gallery. Spieth got free relief for his ball and had a good look at the green on his second shot.

“I actually got fortunate,” Spieth said. “I was in a great spot there.”

But Spieth hit it fat and came up short of the green.

“I hit a really, really horrible shot off of the mulch,” Spieth said. “It needed to be played like a fairway bunker shot-ish. I needed to hit it just crisp or a little bit thin … I was frustrated coming off of there.”

His competitor, Schwartzel, had made a mess of the hole himself. He, too, had sprayed his tee shot into the right trees but further back from where Spieth was. Both players halved the hole with bogeys — a sizzling start to the day.

Spieth took a 1-up lead at the second hole after another bogey from Schwartzel but surrendered it at the sixth with a bogey.

Spieth went 1 up at the par-5 12th after another ill-advised bogey by Schwartzel — and then Spieth put his foot on the gas.

He flipped a wedge to under three feet on No. 13 for a conceded birdie, then followed it up with another conceded birdie on No. 14 after stuffing it to 18 inches from 156 yards out.

Spieth was 3 up at that point and closed out Schwartzel on No. 17 to win the match 2 and 1.

“I got the job done today,” Spieth said. “Neither one of us played well on the front nine. I hit some solid shots there as we got to the middle of the back nine to build the lead up, which took some stress off for sure.”

Spieth faces China’s HaoTong Li, the No. 34-ranked player in the world, on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

On a picture-perfect morning at Austin Country Club on Monday, Dylan Frittelli stepped on the first tee, readying to tee off for a practice round in preparation for this week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

But not before a familiar face joined him out of surprise.

Frittelli’s former University of Texas teammate, Jordan Spieth — who just so happens to be a three-time major champion and the No. 4 player in the world — was trailing from behind.

“I walked on the first tee, and I guess he followed me from the driving range,” Frittelli said.

Since the end of their college careers at Texas, in many ways, Frittelli has been the one trying to follow Spieth. While Frittelli, a South African native, has grinded overseas on the European Tour, Spieth has become one of the biggest stars in the game on the PGA Tour — a stage Frittelli hopes to one day become a mainstay on.

But on Monday, it was Spieth doing the following as he saw Frittelli head for the first tee.

“He’s just the same person he’s always been,” Spieth said of Frittelli. “He hasn’t changed a bit in the last five, six years.”

In the summer of 2012 at Los Angeles’ Riviera Country Club, Spieth and Frittelli led the Longhorns to a national championship — Texas’ first since back-to-back wins in the early 1970s, the days of legends Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite.

But it was Frittelli who clinched the win, sinking a 30-footer for birdie on the last hole of the decisive match. The 18th green at Riviera quickly turned into a madhouse, as Frittelli dropped his putter, threw down his hat and sunglasses and jumped into the arms of his teammates.

“People tend to forget I made the putt at the national championship,” Frittelli said. “But that was six years ago now, so it’s long gone in my memory. But it’s probably still my biggest moment in golf.”

Since then, Frittelli’s and Spieth’s careers have taken different routes.

Frittelli has won twice on the European Tour, most recently in Austria last June.

“It’s awesome to see because that work ethic (Frittelli) put in in college was a big part of the reason why I worked so hard in college — to try and beat him within our own team,” Spieth said. “That competitive nature has carried over into kind of creating a work ethic for both of us. As professionals, it has bred success for us.”

Spieth, meanwhile, had his breakout year on the PGA Tour in 2015, when he won five times, including at the Masters and U.S. Open. He won the British Open last summer in dramatic fashion. In total, Spieth has collected 11 wins on the PGA Tour.

Frittelli was jokingly asked on Monday what it was like to have Spieth as his groupie this week. But Frittelli quickly dispelled that.

“I’m Jordan Spieth’s teammate,” Frittelli said with a smile. “That’s the big flier on the PGA Tour and European Tour. Hoping to change that. Maybe one day he’ll be co-teammate or something to that effect.”

And maybe someday that could be the case. Frittelli’s dream is to eventually move back to Austin one day and play on the PGA Tour — and of course, win majors like Spieth. 

This week at Austin Country Club, playing against 64 of the top 69 players in the world, Frittelli’s getting a small glimpse of that dream.

“I want to play the best golfers in the world,” Frittelli said. “They happen to be in the U.S. right now, and that’s where I want to live. I’ll stay here in Austin. I’m taxed here in the U.S. That’s basically where I see myself in the future.”

Frittelli and Spieth aren’t the only Longhorns in this week’s field. There’s also Jhonattan Vegas, who played at Texas from 2004–07, just a few years before Spieth and Frittelli helped deliver a national title.

Vegas’ PGA Tour career has largely been up and down. He broke onto the scene in 2011 when he won the Bob Hope Classic. He’s won twice on Tour since then.

Inside the Austin Country Club locker room, a signed picture of Vegas holding the trophy from his first win still hangs on the wall.

“You know what, I’ve seen it once or twice,” Vegas said. “All the good people around Austin Country Club makes this place phenomenal. So obviously, every time I just park in this parking lot, have a huge smile on my face, it has a lot of fond memories being here in Austin. So it’s always a good place that I feel comfortable.”

Vegas, along with Spieth and Frittelli, will try to make some more memories at Austin Country Club this week.

Jordan Spieth, bottom center, celebrates with the men’s golf team after winning the 2012 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. Spieth broke multiple records at this year’s Masters Tournament and tied Tiger Woods’ record for lowest overall score.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Jordan Spieth has much in common with the average UT student. The former Longhorn, who attended the University from 2011–2012, calls Dallas home, avidly roots for the Cowboys, and celebrated his 21st birthday in July.

But on Sunday, Spieth made history, trading in his burnt orange for a green jacket and joining a slightly more prestigious club.

Spieth won the 2015 Masters Tournament with a score of 18-under par, tying a record set by Tiger Woods in 1997. Spieth is the fifth player in history to lead the tournament from start to finish and the first wire-to-wire champion since Raymond Floyd in 1976.

It was a record-breaking weekend for Spieth, who set the Masters record for lowest score through 36 holes (-14) and 54 holes (-16) and tied the 72-hole score record (-18). Additionally, he broke Phil Mickelson’s record for most birdies at the Masters with 28 and became the first person to reach 19-under par at Augusta. Spieth is also among the youngest winners of the tournament, barely older than Woods was when he won almost two decades ago.

CBS anchor Jim Nantz called Spieth’s Masters showing “one of the epic performances in the history of the sport,” claiming that “a new era has arrived.”

It is undeniable that Spieth’s success at such a young age rivals only that of four-time Masters champion Woods. It’s been nearly two decades since Woods arrived on the scene and revived the sport in the late 1990s. With his classic good looks, southern charm and rare ability to play golf nearly perfectly, Spieth is well on his way to reigniting golf’s waning popularity.

“It’s truly inspiring to see the type of things you can accomplish by putting in hard work, especially when they are done by a guy as nice and humble as Jordan,” said Connor Bush, mechanical engineering junior and a former high school classmate of Spieth’s. “It’s crazy to think that someone I used to walk by in the halls every day is going on to accomplish such incredible feats.”

Incredible feats they are. This marks Spieth’s third win on the PGA Tour. Following this Masters win, he will rise to No. 2 in the world. 

“What a week and day for Jordan,” said Ryan Murphy, former Texas men’s golf assistant coach. “He’s a very special young man, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach and be around him during his time at Texas. His winning the Masters does not surprise me. He’s as strong mentally as any young person that I have been around. It is a great day for the Spieth family as well as the Longhorn family.”

Jordan Spieth continues to shine, Nicklaus still adding to resume

Over the holidays, golfers spent time competing at the Australian Open.  With part of the Open redesigned by Jack Nicklaus and, also, a rule change played the course as a par-71 for the first time, some golfers could've been distactraced.        

However, the changes did not hinder former UT golfer, Jordan Spieth.  Spieth has already impressed on the PGA Tour and Ryder Cup play but showed even more at this tournament. 

In the final round, Spieth finished with a score of 8-under-par 63 and a total of 13-under-par 271, becoming the first American to win the Australian Open since Brad Faxon in 1993.  

Adam Scott, an Australian native, finished in fifth place and nine strokes behind while defending champion, Rory McIlroy, finished with 2-over and fifteen strokes behind Spieth.  With McIlroy’s great ending to last season to be golf’s number 1 player, he is struggling to get back in the swing. 

Three Australians, Rod Pampling, Greg Chalmers, and Brett Rumford, earned spots for next July’s Open Championship.  The Australian Open is the first qualifying tournament for the 2015 Open Championship as it offers three spots to the top finishers who are not already exempt.     

Jack Nicklaus added his own spark to the tournament redesigning the course.  As he continues course designs and is remembered for his 18 titles, Nicklaus is about to receive one more award. 

Nicklaus is set to receive Congress’ civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal after legalization for the award was cleared late Monday night and waiting to be signed by President Barack Obama. 

Nicklaus won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.  By earning the Congressional Gold Medal, he and Arnold Palmer are the only golfers to win both awards.  Other recipients of this award include Rosa Parks, Robert Frost, Joe Louis and Neil Armstrong.   

Europe claims third straight Ryder Cup over the Americans

As the United States headed into the final round for the Ryder Cup today, it trailed Europe, 10-6.

However, despite a push from the Americans, Europe came out with its third straight Ryder Cup win.

Friday morning marked first matchup occurred between U.S. rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth as they were paired up against Gallacher and Ian Poulter.  Though, it came as a shock, that the rookies upset the Europeans.  For Poulter, this was the worst loss of his Ryder Cup career. 

Also for the Americans, veterans Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley went out and beat Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Things were looking good for the U.S. as it led after the morning, 2.5-1.5.  However, U.S. captain Tom Watson decided to sit the hot young stars and put his trust in Mickelson and Bradley. 

That afternoon, the U.S. could not slow down the Europeans as they won 3.5-.5, ending the day with a 5-3 lead.

The U.S. led Saturday morning 2.5-1.5, cutting the European lead, 6.5-5.5.  Europe, once again, gained control in the afternoon, leading 3.5-.5. And, on Sunday, Watson put the trust in the rookies and Rickie Fowler sidelining Mickelson, Bradley, and Webb Simpson.

However, Sunday marked another win for Europe.  McIlroy earned the first point for Europe as he defeated Fowler to extend the lead 11-6.  After that, the Europeans cruised to victory.  Graeme McDowell came back to defeat Spieth, while Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson. 

The final blow to the U.S. came when Jamie Donaldson hit a 9-iron just 2 feet short on the 15th hole.  Europe finished with a score of 16.5-11.5.  Not only did Europe win its third straight Ryder Cup, they also won it for the 8th time out of the last 10 events.

It was not so long ago that Jordan Spieth, the former Longhorn and young golf talent, made people wonder if the second coming of Tiger Woods had arrived.

It was April 13, Masters Sunday, and the Dallas native had finished the coveted tournament tied for second-place. Then 20-years-old, he had nearly become the youngest golfer to ever wear the green jacket. He had almost topped men more than ten years his senior.

But “almost” has remained the key word, even after two more major tournaments. He didn’t win at Augusta, and hasn’t come close to claiming his first major since. His name has faded from the headlines, replaced by other talented young golfers like Rory McIlroy.

“It will sting to some extent until I get myself back in that position … and that could be awhile from now,” Spieth said after the Masters. “I just want to be back in this position because it was so much fun.”

Spieth has never been one to let himself permanently fall out of relevancy. His name has been important in golf circles since he was scoring in the 60s as a teenager.

The season’s final major, the PGA Championship this weekend, will be Spieth’s next chance to prove that he can become golf’s best young player.

Spieth has won the Texas high school state championships, the 2012 NCAA national championship, 31 top-25 PGA finishes, one PGA victory and a No. 11 world ranking. But for him to begin a legacy that could match one of the greats by the time he is done, he must win a major soon.

The best golfers of all-time started winning the big ones at a young age, making this year’s PGA Championship especially important for Spieth.

“Maybe last year at this time I would have liked to have just gotten myself into contention on Sunday’s and wouldn’t have known what that would’ve been like,” Spieth said in mid-July before The Open Championship. “But after the Masters and the Players (Championship), those experience have given me confidence that if I’m on my game, I feel like I can win (majors).”

Spieth has proven that he is ready. Yes, he has let go of his lead already twice this year at two big tournaments (Masters and Player’s Championship), but that also means he is just a few holes away.

He tied for 36th at The Open Championship, and his best finish of late was the tournament before that, the John Deere Classic, where he finished tied for seventh. He’s only missed the cut twice in 2014 but hasn’t finished better than second.

Winning a major may be more mental than anything for Spieth. He’s still just 21 years old, and that has shown in major tournaments through his frustrations, especially in The Masters.

But Spieth has always been known for his maturity and confidence. When he is able to channel those strengths, he is at his best on the course.

“I think I’m ready to win a major, and that’s a great feeling,” Spieth said shortly after sinking the last hole. “I’m hungry (to win), to be honest with you.”

Bridging the gap between that hunger for a win and an actual victory is something Spieth will try to prove he is finally ready for at the PGA Championship this weekend.

Quotes from and 

Easter weekend has passed, spring has finally arrived and with it the PGA Tour gets into full swing.

With the Masters having come and gone, golf season is now in prime season. Several golfers from Big 12 schools have taken to the course early on this year and proved they have the stuff to compete with the very best in the sport.

Perhaps the best, and most surprising, start to this year’s season is from 36-year old Jimmy Walker.

The 13-year pro out of Baylor has won three tournaments – The Open, Sony Open, and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – and is ranked second on the PGA money list so far this year.

So far, this is Walker’s best season since he turned pro in 2001, and he’s not showing signs of slowing down after his eighth place finish in the Masters. Keep an eye out for Walker throughout the course of this year’s season.

It seems like every year we just keep waiting for Rickie Fowler to have that breakout season. This is Fowler’s fifth year since turning pro, and it should be about time to see some major results.

Fowler has been on a hot streak as of late; with two top-ten finishes in his last two tournaments - taking fifth in the Masters. He can’t depend on his bright clothing style to bring him victories though.

If Fowler, currently ranked 35th in the world, can improve on his putting and make a few more greens, we could easily see him contending in many more tournaments throughout the season.

Lastly, there’s the wonder-kid Jordan Spieth. The twenty-year-old former Longhorn has had an incredible start to his young career.

Since turning pro in 2012, Spieth has made over 6 million in total earnings and finished in the top ten 14 times. His remarkable start resembles that of Rory Mcilroy, another young golfer that has recently had tremendous success in the early stages of his career.  

In Spieth’s best performance yet was in this years Masters. Going into Sunday, Spieth shared the lead with Bubba Watson and even pulled ahead by three strokes at one point before finishing at even on the day.

The 20 year-old did not buckle under the pressure. Instead of folding to Watson, he maintained steady play and took second in the tournament, showing maturity and the ability to stay mentally strong in the face of defeat.

Spieth may have not won the Masters, but rest assured the young Texan will be in contention for many more Sundays to come.

The next big PGA event will be the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass May 8-11.